Cool when it's hot ... the Sydney Festival.

Cool when it's hot ... the Sydney Festival. Photo: James Alcock

When it’s hot, Sydney is the capital of cool, writes Mal Chenu.

Add creative bling to Sydney’s natural splendour and the effect is magnetic. A chunk of Sydney Festival events take place at city CBD venues, however Rivercat ferries from Circular Quay also take audiences to Parramatta for shows including the Parra Opening Party on January 10, and Project 28 – works by acclaimed Slovakian artist Roman Ondak. His work relies on public participation, so get along and make your mark. The expanded Festival Village in Sydney’s Hyde Park will party every day (except Mondays) with plenty to eat, drink and thrill to, including performances by Limbo, a circus cabaret of acrobatics, sword swallowing and fire breathing. If you love underwater opera – and who doesn’t? - check out Dido & Aeneas, being held in January at Sydney Lyric at The Star in Pyrmont. Then stop by The Star’s new rooftop bar, the Sky Terrace.

For spectacular illusion, check out Bullet Catch at Carriageworks, and for a dose of funk see Chaka (I’m Every Woman) Khan baring her soul in a free concert in the Domain on January 11 (

Sydney does have a quieter side and among the celebration of all things new the city does occasionally pause to appreciate its heritage. Sydney Living Museums ( is a central point of reference for culinary exhibitions, lectures, shopping and experiences at historic venues such as Elizabeth Bay House, Hyde Park Barracks, Rose Seidler House, The Mint and Vaucluse House.

 Foodie historians will love Eat Your History: A Shared Table, an exhibition which showcases eight historic homes that capture the different ages of Sydney’s food culture from 1788 to the 1950s. It’s on until March 9. Meanwhile At the Governors’ Table looks at the food, guests and table conversation of the early governors of NSW. It’s also on until March 9, at the Museum of Sydney.

A few blocks north, at the Australian Museum, children will be queuing to see Tyrannosaurs – Meet the Family, a multimedia experience with 10 life-size dinosaur specimens on display (

Francophiles are in for a treat when So Frenchy So Chic in the Park takes over the grounds of St John’s College in Camperdown for a day of French music, food and wine on January 18. There are plenty of great musicals hitting the high notes in Sydney this summer, too. The Lion King is showcasing the majesty of the Serengeti at the Capitol Theatre, and all eyes will be on the singlets and biceps when Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom the Musical quick-steps into town in the new year.

The city’s long warm nights are perfect for a picnic and a drink at an outdoor cinema. The lights of the city sparkle behind the big screen in the Royal Botanic Gardens, there’s Moonlight Cinema in Centennial Park, Movies by the Boulevard at Sydney Olympic Park and Flickerfest  at Bondi in January ( And while you’re at Bondi, see Eugene Tan’s photographic homage to saltwater at Aquabumps Gallery, walk the cliffs between Bondi and Coogee or take a surfing lesson. Then grab some food, relax on the sand and watch the world go by. 

For a more sedate waterside experience, head to the harbour beaches of Rose Bay, Neilson Park or Watson’s Bay for a swim and a long, lazy lunch. Sydney’s northern beaches offer more of the same, with excellent dining guaranteed at Balmoral, Manly, Palm Beach and Avalon.

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